MSI is showing off a laptop and an MP3 player at CeBit that use on-board solar panels to recharge and extend battery life.
The Taiwanese company, known mainly for its motherboards and graphics cards, said the products are experimental, and it doesn't expect to put them on sale. They're an attempt to dabble in ways to provide power to portable devices in remote areas and recharge batteries, areas the company's research and development team has been focusing on, said Marc Chen, product manager for the notebook computer division.
"This is only a concept – to create a vision for the future," Chen said.
The lid of the laptop is covered with solar panels so that even when it's closed, it's still gathering the sun's energy. The system needs a voltage converter to adapt the output of the solar cells to the laptop's battery charging circuitry, MSI said.
The main trouble with using solar panels, however, is cost. A user would have to pay two or three times the standard price of a laptop for one equipped with solar cells, Chen said. The stumbling blocks haven't discouraged MSI, though. The company plans to continue developing the idea and is looking for partners in Japan.
The company's other solar device, the Solar Cell MP3 player, a version of its MSI Mega Player 540 with 4GB of storage capacity, is also too expensive to consider for mass production, said Jack Tsai, marketing manager for MSI's consumer electronics unit. But it extends battery life by three hours and can recharge the battery, he added.
The solar panel on the MP3 player displayed nearly took up its entire back side. Tsai said the solar power display MSI set up has attracted a lot of interest at CeBit, and drew in a number of people for a closer look.